Sensory Heritage Is The New Green

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For some time now green has been the new thing and we live in one of its showcases, with access to all kinds of tropical nature within easy driving distance. But it has been where we live that, for the last few months, has had us greening our own living patterns. There will be a fuller post on that soon, but for now I just smile at my friends across the Atlantic, on a day when our rooster woke me as usual well before the sunrise. And opening the gallinero (chicken coop) on my way to the lower land we are planting, I was sensitive to the smell that I had otherwise stopped noticing until I read this short piece. I appreciate the imaginative approach, probably unique to France, to protecting heritage that some at best take for granted and others find a nuisance:

Townies v tractors

French urbanites fuss about rustic noises and smells

Some second-home owners have sued over loud livestock and church bells

France’s sense of itself has long been rooted in the land, even though three-quarters of French people live in towns. Now, however, having locked down in small airless spaces, many city-dwellers feel the call of the wild. Estate agents report an uptick in searches for homes with gardens. Diehard urbanites talk wistfully of a bucolic existence in la France profonde. In a poll, 61% of the French think confinement will encourage people to move to the country or buy a second home. But do today’s townsfolk know what rural life really entails?

The question arose late last year, when Pierre Morel-À-L’Huissier, a deputy from the Lozère, a remote rural area, introduced a bill to protect France’s “sensory heritage”. By this, he meant “the crowing of the cockerel, the noise of cicadas, the odour of manure”, and other rural sounds and smells. Continue reading

Traditional Life Intersecting With Modern Sensibilities

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Ms. Fesseau keeps all the eggs from her chicken coop. Kasia Strek for The New York Times

It may be the Francophile in me that appreciates this story. Or maybe living surrounded by the sounds described in the story below helps me to take a position on roosters like the petition-signers all over France. Modern sensibilities include expectations to be shielded from such sounds, but equally modern sensibilities are emerging that remind us where food comes from, and ways in which we should respect the traditional life of rural areas.

‘The Rooster Must Be Defended’: France’s Culture Clash Reaches a Coop

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Corinne Fesseau with her rooster, Maurice, in the garden of her house in Saint-Pierre d’Oléron, France. Kasia Strek for The New York Times

SAINT-PIERRE-D’OLÉRON, France — The rooster was annoyed and off his game. He shuffled, clucked and puffed out his russet plumage. But he didn’t crow. Not in front of all these strangers.

“You see, he’s very stressed out,” said his owner, Corinne Fesseau. “I’m stressed, so he’s stressed out. He’s not even singing any more.” She picked up Maurice the rooster and hugged him. “He’s just a baby,” she said.

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Ms. Fesseau, a retired waitress, has defended Maurice vehemently. “A rooster needs to express himself,” she said. Kasia Strek for The New York Times

Maurice has become the most famous chicken in France, but as always in a country where hidden significance is never far from the surface, he is much more than just a chicken.

He has become a symbol of a perennial French conflict — between those for whom France’s countryside is merely a backdrop for pleasant vacations, and the people who actually inhabit it.

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Sebastien Orsero, a fisherman on the island, said he was asked to replace a hedge separating his house from his neighbors’ property with a concrete wall because birds living in the hedge disturbed his neighbors. Kasia Strek for The New York Times

Maurice and his owner are being sued by a couple of neighbors. They are summer vacationers who, like thousands of others, come for a few weeks a year to Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron, the main town on an island off France’s western coast full of marshes and “simple villages all whitewashed like Arab villages, dazzling and tidy,” as the novelist Pierre Loti wrote in the 1880s.

These neighbors, a retired couple from near the central French city of Limoges, say the rooster makes too much noise and wakes them up. They want a judge to remove him. Continue reading

Paris Bans Pre-1997 Cars from Roads

Good news comes from the French capital in an effort to reduce smog and carbon emissions on the streets in the city of light, but the United States is stuck trying to discourage driving in much weaker fashion, Camille von Kaenel reports for Scientific American:

Cities around the world are driving vehicles off the streets by imposing strict anti-pollution measures, but the car still rules in the United States.

This week, the city of Paris launched a ban on vehicles built before 1997 during weekday daylight hours. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has been candid about her desire to expand the ban to cut back on smog from diesel cars and to “reclaim” the city for pedestrians and bikers.

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The Earliest Artists

Located in southern France, the Cave of Pont d’Arc holds the earliest-known and best-preserved figurative drawings, dating back to the Aurignacian period (30,000–32,000 BP). PHOTO: Nat Geo

Located in southern France, the Cave of Pont d’Arc holds the earliest-known and best-preserved figurative drawings, dating back to the Aurignacian period (30,000–32,000 BP). PHOTO: Nat Geo

The Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc has been ferociously protected by the French Ministry of Culture. An exceptional testimony of prehistoric art, the cave was closed off by a rock fall and remained sealed until its discovery in 1994. The images demonstrate techniques of shading, combinations of paint and engraving, three-dimensionality and movement.

Around 36,000 years ago, someone living in a time incomprehensibly different from ours began to draw on its bare walls: profiles of cave lions, herds of rhinos and mammoths, a magnificent bison off to the right, and a chimeric creature—part bison, part woman—conjured from an enormous cone of overhanging rock. Other chambers harbor horses, ibex, and aurochs; an owl shaped out of mud by a single finger on a rock wall; an immense bison formed from ocher-soaked handprints; and cave bears walking casually, as if in search of a spot for a long winter’s nap. The works are often drawn with nothing more than a single and perfect continuous line. In all, the artists depicted 442 animals over perhaps thousands of years, using nearly 400,000 square feet of cave surface as their canvas.

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The Republic Stands

Republic Day

After 26 years, man’s or rather a soldier’s best friend returned to the annual Republic Day parade in India. PHOTO: Getty

5 months and 11 days – that was the last time I felt a surge of patriotism, took a good look at what my country was and is. And what it will be. As the clock hands inched towards midnight and yet another Indian anniversary of independence, I wrote these lines. That day drew to a close. Sadly, the all-consuming, overwhelming love I felt for this land, too. Don’t get me wrong: I love my country. Every single day. All its idiosyncracies with all my heart and soul. But it takes the designated Independence Day or the more recent Republic Day (January 26) for this love to reign over my work-weary being. To remind of this freedom I am bestowed with. Yesterday, it did. And this love left paw prints all over my heart and I sorely missed a friend of mine in the uniform. Made me love my country more. Be thankful, too.

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Short Story Dispensers Aim to Dispense with Unproductive Waiting Time in Grenoble

Screenshot from a spot by the French news channel M6

Last week Konbini, the online magazine dedicated to popular culture, featured a short story (the nonfiction kind) on the French city of Grenoble, so-called capital of the French Alps. In a collaboration between the city council and the French publishing company Short Édition, certain public spaces that frequently feature waiting time–libraries, the post office, the tourist center–have been equipped with short story dispensers.

After pressing a button to select between one-, three-, and five-minute stories, a long strip of paper is printed from the kiosk and the user can enjoy a piece of short fiction from Continue reading

First feelings in Kerala

View from Xandari Harbour; Photo credit: Derek Spier

This weekend I arrived in India for the first time. My name is Lucie and I’m currently studying business at Audencia School of Management in Nantes, France. I’ll spend four months here in an internship with Raxa Collective.

My first “home” with Raxa Collective is Xandari Harbour, in Fort Kochi. When I arrived the first thing that astonished me was the warm welcome from the team of co-workers, also named the “Raxa Collective Family”. To be honest, as a French girl I am not used to this kind of welcome. Right away they gave me everything I would need to be comfortable with them and my new surroundings. They definitely know how to welcome a foreigner! ​From the moment I arrived the team helped me forget my 31 hours of travel, replacing it with the knowledge of how lucky I am to be here.

If you have already read some articles on this blog, you probably will agree with my assessment regarding the link between nature and the company. Now that I know a little more about Raxa Collective it’s clear to me that we can’t talk about it without talking about nature, too. So, as much as the warm welcome, I was also really impressed by the place and the amazing landscape.

The sunset was for me the best moment.  Continue reading

Most Eco-friendly Ad Campaign Ever?

French organic food retailer Biocoop claims to have come up with the most eco-friendly campaign ever. PHOTO: AdWeek

French organic food retailer Biocoop claims to have come up with the most eco-friendly campaign ever. PHOTO: AdWeek

Welcome to the age of ‘organic’ being the marketing appeal of food production, design, crafts, consumer goods, and more. With it being a coveted USP and given the large planning and effort that go into taking the organic route, you might as well tell everyone who has a moment to listen. And that’s precisely what French organic food retailer Biocoop is doing. And doing it with a creative difference – rather than investing in commercials and monstrous hoardings, the company and its agency Fred & Farid Paris decided to make the medium their message. Marshall Mcluhan, you’d be proud! Organic by business and eco-friendly in their ad campaign, Biocoop’s message is crystal clear.

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Europe’s Green Capital

So I’ve left behind the wild, lush landscape of the Costa Rican rainforest and arrived in Strasbourg, France, to find a completely different kind of green.

Costa Rica is one of those countries the climate change debate focuses on – it’s the epitome of natural diversity and everywhere you turn there is some species or habitat that could be gone in 20 years’ time. Or 10 years’ time. From the rainforests I hiked through to the sloth sanctuary my mum and I visited, everything there seems at once so wild and so fragile. The conservation efforts we see there are direct, tackling the specific problems the land faces: protected areas are being designated, turtle-watching programmes are being set up to monitor and protect the species, and the people at Aviarios sloth sanctuary provide education for locals as well as caring for the animals.

Places like the Manuel Antonio National Park have to concentrate on the effects of climate change.

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